2 Heavyweights, A Small Town - The Biggest Electoral Battle In Punjab

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2 Heavyweights, A Small Town - The Biggest Electoral Battle In Punjab

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Sukhbir Badal is better known as the son of the five-time Chief Minister of Punjab.

Jalalabad, Punjab:  It is the battle of the heavyweights, the blue ribbon event of the Punjab Assembly Elections. Of the 117 seats, Punjab's biggest electoral battle will be in Jalalabad, a small border town near 300 km from state capital Chandigarh.

No other seat has two opposing stalwarts of this stature. On the one hand there is Sukhbir Badal, the sitting legislator and Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, on the other, a man who is AAP's star campaigner.

Mr Badal is better known as the son of the five-time Chief Minister of Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal. His challenger is comedian, musician and actor-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann.

Mr Mann showed people don't just come to his rallies for a laugh, when he won the Parliamentary seat from Sangrur in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He is second only to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal when it comes to crowd pulling.
 
bhagwat mann

The initial delay in declaring Mr Badal as the Akali candidate triggered suggestions that he wasn't going to take on Mr Mann. As he reached Jalalabad to file his nomination today, he was shown black flags by the local bar association.

The sitting Parliamentarian Sher Singh Ghubaya of the Akali Dal did not accompany him. A few days ago, stones were pelted on Mr Badal's convoy in the area.

Yesterday, Mr Badal's wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, had suggested that if Parkash Singh Badal called for violence, AAP workers wouldn't survive. This was in the context of a shoe attack on the Chief Minister. The Akalis allege the man was connected to AAP.

Today, Sukhbir Badal reiterated what sounded like a warning and stopped short of an all-out threat.

"Our workers are quiet because we believe in law and order... this is all planned by AAP, including the incident with Parkash Badal. The previous incidents have been orchestrated by AAP and Bhagwant Mann has incited the violence," he said.

Addressing a few hundred people at a rally, Mr Mann retorted: "The elder Badal says Bhagwant Mann is inciting people and is behind the shoe throwing attack and the pelting of stones on Sukhbir Badal. I am against these kind of acts. No place for them in democracy.''

Gurpreet Sandhu, spokesperson of a breakaway group from AAP, which calls itself APP (Apna Punjab Party) suggest they will be the key to this elections -- indicating a hung assembly could be the result.

Even they call Jalalabad the 'hot seat'.

The battle could get even more interesting because Sher Singh Ghubaya's son, who did not get a seat, has joined the Congress Mr Ghubaya commands great influence is the area as a Rai Sikh - a community that constitutes 35 per cent of the Jalalabad vote.

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